Bulls

Thibs dismisses Coach of Year talk, touts Rose

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Thibs dismisses Coach of Year talk, touts Rose

Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Posted: 10:37 a.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was interviewed on Comcast SportsNet's "The Dan Patrick Show" Wednesday morning and while he backed away from NBA Coach of the Year talk, he did proclaim--at least initially--the Bulls to be the best team in the Eastern Conference.

When asked by Patrick, the show's host, Thibodeau calmly replied, "I believe we're there now."

However, it seemed that the first-year Bulls head coach was merely referring to the team's record, as Tuesday night's home win over Washington--the team's seventh consecutive victory and 12th straight at the United Center--gave the Bulls sole possession of first place in the East.

"I don't know if we're the best team. Our record says right now we are," Thibodeau later said. "There's a lot of work to be done and we're not complete."

READ: Short-handed Bulls nab sole possession of first

The ever-diligent strategist quipped to Patrick that he does "a little bit" of worrying, dismissed any premature Coach of the Year praise by stating, "I don't even want to think about stuff like that."

Thibodeau's answer was similar when he was asked about any added pressure after the recent statements of Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and Bobcats owner Michael Jordan that team could win four and six NBA titles, respectively.

"We don't worry about any of that stuff. We don't want to skip any steps," the coach responded. "If you do the right things every day...the results will take care of themselves."

He was a bit more expansive when discussing the development of league MVP frontrunner Derrick Rose's game.

"He's been great all year from the start," praised Thibodeau. "What you see in the game is what you see in practice."

"He works on all aspects of his game," he continued. "He's challenged himself to be a great complete player."

"This season, he's taken it to another level because he's taken it upon himself to lift the other players on his team."

Patrick, who struggled with the pronunciation of Thibodeau's last name--as most do with "Thibs"--also queried the coach about the "goofy" side of Bulls center Joakim Noah, who missed Tuesday's win due to illness.

WATCH: Sam & Sam, Aggrey talks with Bulls.com's Sam Smith

"He's a character," said Thibodeau, who added the last time Noah made him laugh was "the last time I saw him."

"He's had a tough year with the injuries and now he's sick, but he's done a great job for us."

Thibodeau also discussed his tutelage under Boston head coach Doc Rivers and the prospect of facing the Celtics in the postseason.

"I've been very fortunate to be under a lot of my great coaches in my career," said Thibodeau. "The experience in Boston was great for me because it was at a championship level."

"I think once you get to the playoffs, you're not going to get around people; you have to go through them," he continued. "If we face them, we face them and we'll look forward to it."

"They've changed quite a bit. "It's not the same team...but they're going to be a tough opponent for anybody."

READ: Bulls bench playing major role in recent success

Patrick, who compared Thibodeau's speaking voice to "a young Phil Jackson," also asked Thibodeau about his involvement with last summer's recruitment of LeBron James.

"Helping the Bulls acquire James never came up in the hiring process; Thibodeau and James are represented by the same agency," said Thibodeau. "To me, they all earned the right to be free agents and choose wherever they want to go."

"It worked out well for us," he added. "I don't think anybody could direct LeBron and tell him where he wanted to go."

Thibodeau was also asked about the Bulls' early-season trade discussions regarding Carmelo Anthony.

"I know our management team had conversations, but that didn't work out either," he said. "I'm happy with the group of guys that we have."

The coach did, however, rebut Patrick's point that Anthony would have been a bad fit because of the perception that he's a poor defender.

"Listen, great players can fit in anywhere," Thibodeau noted. "Sometimes players can change."

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Kevin Anderson react to a breakout game from Kris Dunn against the Hornets Friday night. They’ll discuss his development and how it impacts rookie Lauri Markkanen. Plus just how long will both the Wolves and Bulls be judged on the Jimmy Butler trade? Is Dwight Howard a hall of famer? And a new era in Philly with Simmons and Embiid. That and more on this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast.

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Kris Dunn did it: You can’t play that position without an edge, without some form of “basketball killer” in you. Kris Dunn showed at the very least, he has that in his DNA in his best game as a Bull with a career-high 22 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Leave it to Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg to point out a forgotten stat: one turnover in 26 minutes.

“That’s the biggest thing I’m proud of,” Dunn said. “Everyone knows I’ve had a lot of careless turnovers in the season. It’s one thing I’ll take credit for.”

Dunn scored 13 with six assists in the fourth quarter alone as the Bulls outscored the Hornets 40-28 for the comeback victory. More than anything, it was his competitive spirit and aggressiveness that stood out. Kemba Walker stood across the way and gave Dunn—and the Bulls—every bit of 47 points.

“He tested my conditioning, for sure,” Dunn admitted. “He’s a great player. He’s been in the league for so long. It was good to go out there and compete with him.”

It could’ve went a different way had Walker not been bothered by Lauri Markkanen’s challenge at the rim, blowing a layup that would’ve given the Hornets the lead back with seconds remaining but he missed it and the narrative changed at least for a night.

And when teams are talking about learning experiences, it’s good to have them in a win every now and again. Markkanen’s challenge at the rim followed by his closing free throws right after, along with a quietly effective 16 points and seven rebounds, proved huge on this night.

Dunn finally having a confidence booster was imperative.

Dunn scored but it wasn’t an easy 20 or a smooth 20. It was an attacking 20, a necessary 20. He did hit some elbow jumpers, especially in the fourth as the defense laid off him.

But his biggest basket was a slithering drive to the rim for a layup with 2:24 left, because he attacked and was under control.

“That’s huge growth for Kris,” Hoiberg said. “He made the right play darn near every time he had the ball in his hands. Rose up with confidence, knocked down huge shots. Defensively got them going, got steals.”

What a relief: Nobody wanted to say it, but it bore out on the floor, the sheer desperation the Bulls played with.

Coming in with a five-game losing streak and headed out west to for four games in the next week, they were staring in the face of a possible double-digit losing streak to end November.

Confidence was sparse after three bad losses, and it’s a dangerous time for a team that will struggle to win games all season.

The United Center crowd got into it, particularly late when the Bulls began climbing back into contention to start the fourth quarter. The fans wanted this win too, even with the eyes being on a larger prize coming in mid-2018.

The relief was written all over Hoiberg’s usually-stress ridden face and he even cracked a couple jokes that weren’t aimed in his direction, as self-deprecation is normally his escape of choice.

“It is important but I asked the guys: is it hard to play with that type of effort? When you play with that type of energy and effort and swagger, it’s fun,” Hoiberg said. “When you play low energy and hang your head, it’s a drag. It’s hard to play at this level with that mentality.”

Starting change: Justin Holiday returned after his quick leave with his wife delivering a baby girl recently and his game-high 27 points showed he missed the Bulls as much as they missed his shooting, hitting four triples and going 10 for 15 from the field.

“Guys were serious about getting their jobs done,” Holiday said. “It was a lot of energy, a lot of energy, competitiveness. That’s how we have to play every night for our team to do well.”

Denzel Valentine, although he didn’t want to say it, wants to be a starter. Hoiberg chose Quincy Pondexter over him recently and then made the change Friday to insert Valentine for more scoring.

Valentine scored 18 with six assists and five rebounds in 32 minutes of run—and with those two starting as scoring options, the Bulls surpassed that seven-point first-quarter mark really early and scored 26 overall.

He hit a big triple in the fourth with 2:49 left to give the Bulls a 110-109 lead on a set play the Bulls actually executed between Valentine, Dunn as a setup man and Robin Lopez as a screen to pop Valentine open.

If he continues to hit 3-pointers at a 40 percent clip, especially with the way the Bulls have struggled to start games, he’ll have the right to feel he belongs in the first five.

“It’s definitely more confidence,” Valentine said. “You feel you’re an NBA starter, you get to go in and feel it out for a second and bring some energy to start the game.”

He didn’t mince words about starting, with a little honesty saying, “I think it’s huge being a starter.”

When asked if he felt validated by his performance and the result being a high-scoring win, it was just as telling.

“I think I deserve…I think I deserved a starting role,” Valentine said. “At the same time it’s different combinations, different people that need to be on the floor at certain times, so if he feels like I don’t need to start, I won’t start. But I feel very comfortable starting as well.”

Hack-a-Dwight: It could be Hack-a-Dwight, hack-a-Drummond, hack-a-Wilt or Shaq or Charles Shackleford.

The Bulls went to it and Howard went two of four from the line but it took a little rhythm from the Hornets and probably slowed Kemba Walker down just enough before he got cooking in the last 90 seconds and almost pulled a win out of his keister.

But…

I hate it. Get it out of the game completely.